How to Use a Hydraulic Jack - Useful Guide for Car Enthusiasts
Most cars come equipped with a small manual car jack commonly known as a scissor jack. A hydraulic jack might not be as popular as the scissor jack, so in this article, we will show you why you should consider buying a portable hydraulic jack and how to use a hydraulic jack. It could make your life easier.
The science behind hydraulics jack is Pascal's principle.
A hydraulic jack uses a liquid called hydraulic fluid or hydraulic jack oil; this fluid is not compressible. Today there are many types of fluids used in hydraulics, but we can break them down into three categories, namely;
1. Water-based fluids which are highly fire-resistant.
2. Synthetic fluids; these tend to be a bit expensive, and there are toxicity concerns around them.
3. Petroleum-based fluids; these are more versatile in that a lot of things can be added to them to enhance their efficiency.
Simply put, the hydraulic system works by using pressurized fluid to release power. Therefore, when a small amount of pressure is applied to the liquid in the hydraulic jack by pumping the lever. It magnifies that pressure, because the fluid cannot be compressed, making it capable of lifting bigger objects. That is how the hydraulic jack works.
Usually, manufacturers make these jacks from either aluminum construction or steel construction, and they tend to have a higher lifting capacity because of the ability of the hydraulic fluid and cylinders to magnify pressure.
Before you even consider using a car jack lift, you must take safety precautions such as;
- Ensuring that your car is in first gear if it is a manual transmission or in park if it is an automatic transmission. Also, the hand brake must be engaged.
- Avoiding going underneath your car when it is supported by the car jack only. We recommend that you purchase at least good four jack stands like Torin T83006 Jack or Arcan (ALJ3T / A20018) that can support the car while it is suspended.
- Making sure that your working surface is flat, hard and level. Avoid starting the process on grass or soil unless you are in an emergency.
- Blocking the wheels of your vehicle to keep them from rolling when changing a tire. You can use any solid object around you such as wooden blocks, bricks or wheel chocks to keep the wheels in place on the side of the car to keep stable.
- Ensuring that the hydraulic car jack that you purchase is of high quality. Usually, a hydraulic jack that is much heavier is a better choice as lighter jacks can be unstable.
- Checking the car jack for defects or damage, especially for any fluid leakage as this might hinder the efficiency of the jack and could possibly lead to injury.
The first thing to do after going through all the safety precautions is to ensure that you identify and pick the correct jack point.
Most cars come with a factory jack point. It is usually safe to assume that such a point will be considered as a correct jack point. Engineers have designed it to handle the pressure of holding the weight of a car that is off the ground. If you cannot find the factory jack point, then the next best thing is to look for a point underneath the car that is sturdy and looks like it can handle the weight.
Another danger you would want to avoid is the jack slipping off and having the car fall on you. So, make sure that you do a thorough analysis. If you are not sure then confirming with the owner’s manual is a good place to start.
If your car has plastic parts underneath, it is best to avoid using those places as a jack point because it is unclear what part or mechanism the plastic is holding. You do not want to damage your car.
Once you have checked this point and you are confident is to place your jack underneath your jack point and start pumping the handle up and down in even strokes until the car has reached the height that you require.
Remember that the hydraulic jack works quickly with a little amount of pressure so be mindful of how high you push your car. Pump the jack it until the car is high enough and then place your jack stands to hold the car in place
Now you will place your jack stands underneath your car close to where you have mounted your jack. Now the most important thing to remember here is to gently lower the car using your hydraulic jack until the car is firmly supported on the jack stands. Allowing the jack to lower the car too quickly could result in damage or serious injury.
You have to shake the car a little bit to make sure that the jack stands and wheel blocks are holding the car securely in place. The car will wiggle a little but it is nothing to worry about.
Lastly, after finishing your job, then use your hydraulic jack to once again lift your car so that you can remove the jack stands and slowly lower your car back to the ground. It is essential to always be careful during this process.
And that’s it! That is how you use a hydraulic jack.
How to use a hydraulic jack is a common question for a beginner or anyone not familiar with them, but as this quick guide showed it is a very simple procedure and hopefully you have understood how to jack up a car with hydraulic car jack.